BMW has placed a “billion euro” order for electric vehicle batteries from China— because the firm ‘can’t wait’ for Europe to build a battery cells industry, according to its chairman.
Harald Krüger’s (pictured) announcement of a deal with Chinese lithium battery giant Contemporary Amperex Technology (CATL) is the clearest signal yet that Germany could break ranks with the EU over plans to create a European Batteries Alliance to compete with Asia.
Krüger, in remarks confirmed by BBB, said BMW had to act “now” to secure batteries for its next-generation EVs— including the ‘iNeXT’ model. “We cannot rely on a partner that doesn’t even exist yet,” he added.
The car chief also revealed BMW had been “instrumental” in encouraging CATL to build a battery cells plant “in Europe”— which would also supply iNeXT.
“These will be fifth-generation cells we developed together,” Krüger said. “So, the cells will come from Europe, while the remaining value added comes from our own process chain.”
BMW is also setting up a EUR200 million ($233m) battery cell research facility of its own in Munich.
Krüger told German financial journal HandelsblattBMW could only consider joining the EU Batteries Alliance if it were “competitive in terms of costs and technology”.
As BBB went to press, speculation was rife that a deal for German to host CATL’s Europe plant could be announced during talks in Berlin today (9 July) between Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese premier Li Keqiang.
Merkel told Li in Beijing just weeks ago that she wanted “a memorandum of understanding” drawn up for German-Sino cooperation in automotive technology.
The summer edition of BEST Magazine, out later this month, includes a special feature on how Europe’s ‘lithium power play’ threatens to disrupt unity over plans to develop an EU battery-making hub. To read, it you’ll need to subscribe!